Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Uses of Contempt

Contempt was on display left and right yesterday. In Nice François Fillon brought out the long knives: "No longer will there be on one side a President of the Republic who expresses himself on Bastille Day and New Year's Eve and on the other a prime minister who governs from day to day." He and Sarko would stand, or rather jog, shoulder to shoulder. "We not only run together, we work together." The contempt for Chirac was unnecessary, if comprehensible from a politician still smarting at having been sacked by the dying old regime.

Meanwhile, in Paris, François Hollande poured his scorn on the very tandem of which Fillon was so proud: the president, he said, had wanted "an aide-de-camp, an orderly, a flunky, and he found one. He's there to bow, to obey, and when the time comes to resign."

"The perfect contempt," said Henry de Montherlant, "craves the scorn of what it scorns, in order to justify itself."

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

First, let me say, as an ex-professional still amateur of French politics, that this blog is truly a work of Art.

About the Fillon-Sarkozy fusional couple, there may be more to it than just contempt, be it for Chirac or Fillon. Maybe we are experiencing what the quinquennat reform was really all about but that, because of the odd Chirac-Sarkozy cohabitation from 2002 onwards, we did not have a chance to see until now. The quinquennat was about the “re-présidentialisation” of the 5th Republic. It means among other things that you can literally replace “le Gouvernement” by “le Président” in the already superbly hypocritical Article 20 of the Constitution: « Le Gouvernement détermine et conduit la politique de la nation » (absent a cohabitation, the Government “conduit” much more than it “détermine” anything). So maybe, without Royal (and Montebourg) in power, we are going to have the 6th Republic anyway...

Unknown said...

Salut, Eloi
Thanks, and pass the word among the comrades and colleagues. Perhaps nous autres Amerloques can contribute to the renewal of the Socialist Party, now that we've done such a fabulous job of rejuvenating the Right, to say nothing of the Democratic Party at home.

As for your comment, yes, we have a sort of Sixth Republic but without the legislative or judicial check and balance that one might have hoped for. I notice that Royal yesterday quoted Montesquieu on the need for balanced government to counter what one of the elephants called "the absolute presidency." This is progress in Socialist rhetoric. Now that we have reached 1750, we have only another half-century to wait for a quotation from Mirabeau.